Some days it seems as if doom and gloom is the dominant mood in stories about the environment and our impact on it. But not all the news is bad - there are actually some great things happening in the world of green. Obviously, there's a lot more work to do, but it's nice to know that in some areas, things are getting better. Here are a few of today's positive developments:
U.S. Carbon Emissions Down Seven Percent over Four Years
Between 2007 and 2011, total carbon emissions in the United States dropped seven percent (coal's down 10 percent, and oil use is down 11 percent; natural gas use increased by six percent). And that's not all: the reduction came about in part because of the efforts of environmental advocacy group the Sierra Club. Their "Beyond Coal" initiative involved hundreds of local groups who banded together to oppose the building of new coal plants. And it worked - the country basically stopped building them. Over the same period, more than 400 wind farms came online, and a lot more solar panels are in use, which also contributed to the reduced emissions.
Europe's First Recycled Plastic Bridge
Wales is now home to the first bridge in Europe to be built entirely from recycled plastics. At 90 feet long, the bridge contains more than 50 tons of recycled plastics and is capable of carrying vehicles that weigh up to 44 tons. The bridge was built by a Welsh startup called Vertech Ltd. using discarded plastic that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill. And unlike a bridge constructed from metal, it won't rust, doesn't require much maintenance, and didn't require a lick of paint.
Everyone's Investing in Green Energy
Whereas environmental issues usually require thinking about the long term, whereas venture capitalism is all about immediate gains. But a new report from financial firm Ernst & Young has found that firms in the green sector raised almost USD$1.2 billion in the third quarter from venture capitalists. That's up 73% from the same period last year, during a challenging economic time when many firms are struggling to raise funds. This is the first time the green sector has experienced an increase in funding since the third quarter of 2008. More money means more opportunity to create clean technology that can help improve our environment.
Bracebridge, Ontario is Using Recycling to Pay for Waste Management
Finally, closer to home, the District Municipality of Muskoka is selling recyclables to raise funds for its waste management program in Bracebridge, Ontario. The district saw about $500,000 in revenue last year from the program, and in the process diverted a lot of recyclable goods back to the manufacturing of new products. Once it's been processed, the goods can be turned into anything from water bottles to boxboard to roofing shingles. Less waste, more reuse, and money for the municipality. That's good news.